Thrive Face of the Fortnight – Caroline Billings
Caroline Billings – solicitor, Hatch Brenner.
Forget what you know about aloof legal eagles in a stuffy suits, Caroline Billings is a solicitor on a mission to bring the human touch to this serious business. That’s why she’s found Thrive to be the perfect place to reach out to other professional people, and ensure she’s giving her clients an even better service.
Caroline: Put simply, I’m a solicitor with Hatch Brenner and I deal with private client work. That involves taxes, trusts, wills and powers of attorney, and I tend to work with a lot of elderly clients. That’s what I really enjoy doing and it takes me out of the norm. What’s not so simple in my job is finding out how my clients and their families interact and work, that’s where it gets complicated. But only then can I give them the very best advice.
Thrive: That sounds like it could be a minefield, is it?
Caroline: It can be. But it’s really important to get to know and understand the family dynamics. Sometimes I send one letter out to one member of a family as they pass the information on to everyone else. Then at other times, I might have to contact four different people at every step as they have nothing to do with each other. It can vary a lot.
Thrive: Tell us about your business style…
Caroline: I pride myself on the fact that 80 per cent of the work I have now is from clients who’ve come back to me or whom I’ve been recommended to by their family and friends. I probably give people much more of my time than other solicitors would, but what that does for me is huge. I’d never want my clients to think they couldn’t just drop in to my office, or have five minutes of my time if we bump into each other in M&S. I want to be friendly and easy to deal with, and I always go the extra mile for them.
Thrive: What has being a member of the networking group done for your business?
Caroline: I joined when I first came to Norwich so I could meet a whole new group of people, not just people that the other solicitors in Hatch Brenner had introduced me to. It was so useful and now I love the supportive atmosphere and hearing what other people have to say. To have a fortnightly insight into what everyone else is thinking and how the world looks like to them is very good for me.
Thrive: What’s your favourite part of the meeting?
Caroline: As bizarre as it sounds, but being put on the spot for the 60 seconds to stand up and do my pitch. Doing that and doing it confidently is the biggest buzz for me. It was something I used to find so difficult and I don’t now, so I feel I’ve conquered it.
Thrive: What’s the most useful connection you’ve made in the group?
It’s not about one referral or one person, it’s about having a back-up team of professionals to call on. The other day a client came in and started asking me advice about mortgages, which I don’t specialise in. I couldn’t help them myself, but I knew I could call Thrive member Andrew Button to connect them with him so he could help them. It’s a way I can give my clients so much extra value and I think those connections are vital.
Thrive: If you weren’t in your business, where could you make a splash?
I fly gliders and I’m a paraglider pilot so I’d definitely want to take my interest in that to a high level. By that I mean that there are a few records I’d like to try to beat, especially British records set by women. My husband and I go gliding every chance we can and that involves weather watching all week and then flinging ourselves off mountains on the weekend. If I had all the time and the money, I’d be working towards that and I really think it’s achievable for me.